Thursday, January 05, 2017

The fish-oil fad is fading

Medical wisdom about diet keeps getting overturned.  One of the most enduring bits of "wisdom" is the multifarious benefits of fish oil. But it seems that even that may be a total myth.  The latest  review article in JAMA is:  "The Unfulfilled Promise of ω-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation" by Gregory Curfman, MD.  It is in JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.8236.  A couple of extracts below:



Surprise! Leftist double standard about hacking

On Thursday, Barack Obama, through the office of the U.S. Treasury Department, announced his response to the alleged Russian hackings of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The U.S. will expel 35 Russian diplomats and intelligence agents, sanction three Russian businesses and close access to two Russian government-owned compounds in Maryland and New York. Obama blamed the highest levels of government in Moscow for the hacks, claiming they were done to interfere in the U.S. election.

Democrats are predictably heaping praise on Obama’s decision, while several Republicans, long supportive of taking action against Moscow, have questioned the timing. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) stated, “While today’s action by the administration is overdue, it is an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia.”

What is troubling about Obama’s recent actions is indeed the timing. Why now? While Obama decries Russian interference and the need for retaliation and greater security, the truth is, had Hillary Clinton won the election, he wouldn’t have even considered lifting a finger. Perhaps this was the yin to his 2012 yang, when he promised more flexibility with Russia after that election.

Furthermore, consider Obama’s response to China’s unprecedented hacking of the Office of Personnel Management. China stole personal data on more than 21.5 million government workers and Obama said almost nothing. In fact, the New York Times reported at the time that government officials “were under strict instructions to avoid naming China as the source of the attack.” How times have changed.

Obama’s newfound concern over the nation’s cybersecurity has far less to do with protecting the U.S. against future cyberattacks than bitter political retaliation against Donald Trump. Obama’s actions belie his lack of respect and trust in the U.S. system of government. He is primarily motivated not by concern for the well-being and security of the nation, but by protecting his own legacy and agenda. Since an incoming Trump presidency is a greater threat to Obama’s legacy than a nefarious geopolitical power such as Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Obama clearly wants to complicate rather than support future foreign policy efforts by the incoming president. Some legacy.



Congress Just Punched a Big Hole in Obamacare

President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act on December 13. Promoted as a pro-innovation bill, the new law will improve the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory processes; as well as fund Vice-President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, the National Institutes of Health, and steps to reduce the opioid epidemic.

However, the final version of the bill also included an important payment reform: Significantly expanding the use of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) by small businesses. The Affordable Care Act limited employers’ use of these funding vehicles. The IRS promulgated rules levying an excise tax of up to $100 per employee per day.

The advantage of HRAs and similar funding vehicles is that they allow employers to give money directly to employees, who can spend it on medical care. This gets around health insurers’ bureaucracies, which add unnecessary administrative costs.

Obamacare was supposed to be a hand-out to health insurers. It did not quite work out that way. Nevertheless, the law forces as much health spending as possible through insurers’ claims processing. Not only does this add bureaucracy, but it inhibits proper price formation (which in a normal market takes place where the marginal supplier meets the marginal producer). Instead, U.S. health prices are determined administratively between insurers, governments, and providers.

Advocates of consumer-driven health care hope that an ever increasing share of medical payments will be paid by patients directly to providers. At some point, the insurers’ role in price-fixing will become so obviously absurd it will fall apart, and prices will be determined in a more properly functioning market.

21st Century Cures removes the Affordable Care Act’s constraints on small businesses using HRAs to fund employees’ medical spending, instead of overpriced health insurance. As one tax expert notes:

Because of the ACA, many small employers have been prohibited from using reimbursement arrangements that previously were long-standing and effective methods of providing employees with health care benefits. The new law is a welcome modification to the ACA since it gives small employers excise tax relief plus a method for providing health benefits to their employees via the QSEHRA [Qualifying Small Employer HRA].

Hopefully, more such reforms will come in the next Congress.



Liberal Struggle Against Reality

By Walter E. Williams

We will never understand liberals and progressives until we recognize that they often see reality as a social construct subject to being challenged and changed. For example, throughout the world, boys and girls have different toy preferences. Typically, boys like to play with cars and trucks, whereas girls prefer dolls. Liberals explain this with the assertion that boys and girls are socialized and encouraged to play with different types of toys by their parents, peers and "society." Growing scientific evidence suggests that toy preferences have a biological origin. Even studies of male and female primates find that they exhibit similar toy preferences. Despite the growing evidence of biological determinism, liberals have managed to intimidate toy sellers into getting rid of the labels "toys for boys" and "toys for girls."

Another reality issue that's extremely annoying to liberals and progressives is chromosomal sex determination. The XX/XY sex determination system is found in humans. Females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX), whereas males have two distinct sex chromosomes (XY). This chromosomal reality is seen as limiting, annoying and an artifact of a patriarchal, chauvinistic society. So liberals and progressives want to change it. Say you are an XY (male) individual but would like to conduct your affairs in a facility designated for XX (female) individuals, such as a ladies' room. You can satisfy your desire by claiming that you are transgender — that is, you've switched from one gender to another. Therefore, if one has XY chromosomes, he can behave as if he were an XXer.

Plus, there is the expectation of being addressed according to one's chosen gender. The Minneapolis Police Department has a new rule that requires officers to address transgender people using their preferred names and pronouns. When an XYer is arrested but claims he is a woman, I wonder whether the police will place him in a cell with XXers. Just how far the Minneapolis authorities will go is in question; maybe they, too, believe that reality is optional.

Another part of reality that liberals and progressives find difficult to accept is the fact that equality among humans is the exception and inequality the norm. If one were to list the world's top 30 violinists of the 20th century, at least 20 of them would be of Jewish ancestry. Jews constitute no more than 3 percent of the U.S. population but 35 percent of American Nobel Prize winners. One wonders what liberals would propose to promote equality in violin excellence and winning a Nobel Prize. By the way, liberals and progressives love to attend classical concerts, where there is a virtual absence of racial diversity.

Year after year, blacks of West African descent walk away with all of the prizes in the Olympic 100-meter run. The probability of such an outcome by chance is all but zero. It must be a reality — namely, genetic physiological and biomechanical characteristics — that causes blacks to excel in certain sports (e.g., basketball, football and track) and spells disaster for those who have aspirations to be Olympic-class swimmers.

Somehow liberals and progressives manage to cope with some realities but go ballistic with others. They cope well with black domination of basketball, football and track and with the near absence of black performers in classical concerts. They also accept the complete absence of women in the NFL and NBA. They even accept geographical disparities. For example, not a single player in the NHL's history can boast of having been born and raised in Hawaii, Louisiana or Mississippi.

The reality that they go ballistic on is the reality that we are not all equally intelligent. There are many more male geniuses than female, and median male IQ is higher. Liberals might argue bias in the testing. Men are taller on average than women. If liberals don't like that, would they accuse the height-measuring device of being biased?

The lesson liberals need to learn is that despite their arrogance, they do not have the power to alter reality.



Governors lead a Republican renaissance in New England

BOSTON—Republican governors will lead Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine next month – a remarkable feat considering how much the GOP has struggled in New England for more than a generation.

Phil Scott, the governor-elect in Vermont, defeated his Democratic opponent by nine points, even as Donald Trump got wiped out by 29 points. (The president-elect garnered less than one-third of the vote in the Green Mountain State.)

-- New Hampshire was much closer. Trump lost by just half a percentage point. While Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte went down by fewer than one thousand votes, Chris Sununu won the governor’s race by just over 12,000 ballots – out of 629,000. One key factor might have been Chris’s decision to stand by Trump after the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape came out, while Kelly rescinded her endorsement.

-- Ticket splitting has become increasingly uncommon in congressional contests, but voters are perhaps more willing than ever to vote for a governor and president of different parties. Democrats note that they won in West Virginia and Montana last month, and they picked up an open seat in Louisiana last year. Trump carried those states by 42 points, 21 points and 20 points, respectively.

-- Just as there are not many national Democrats who can help out Gov.-elect Jim Justice in the Mountaineer State, neither are there many Republicans who can assist a GOP candidate in Vermont.

-- Charlie Baker is the exception. The Massachusetts governor did events for both Scott and Sununu. “I think New Hampshire is purple. Maine actually goes back and forth quite a bit too. Vermont’s obviously pretty blue, so is Massachusetts,” Baker said. “Part of what made both of those guys interesting to me was the fact that they’re people who would be really hard for someone to stereotype.”

Baker has a 70 percent approval rating in the deep-blue Bay State, making him one of – if not the most – popular governor in America. He’s viewed as a pragmatist and admired for his effective managerial abilities, even though many of his priorities have been blocked by liberals in the legislature.

Much more HERE


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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